Not a bad tradition for his employer, either.
Completed in 1955, the William P. Cole Jr. Student Activities Building cost just $3.3 million to build. If it opened minds and ushered in social change the night of March 19, 1966, when all-black Texas Western dunked on Adolf Rupp’s all-white Kentucky, Cole also was very, very good to Maryland.
The Terrapins won 486 games there, lost just 151 and slayed seven No. 1 teams. Thirty-one Terps who played at Cole played in the NBA. The one who should have made it is still revered as the most breathtaking of all. Spiritually at least, Len Bias will also be at Cole on Friday night.
Just walking around Cole on Thursday and taking in the grainy photographs and the old scoreboard, it’s time the NCAA and the school find the means to designate Cole Field House as a museum to college basketball. Intramural soccer practice just feels beneath it.
“I think the floor is going to look good when they get it done,” Turgeon said, peering out across the hardwood. “What’s it’s really done is it’s woken up all the old-timers. I’ve heard from Lefty seven times since the day we announced it.
“I knew about [Texas Western-Kentucky],” he added. “I knew there were NCAA tournament games here, Final Fours. I heard Roy talk about it at Kansas. But I really didn’t know the depth of it — all the great players that played in this building, all the guys that went onto the NBA, all-Americans . . .”
Turgeon said he has been conscripted to walk out of the tunnel of his predecessors to give a two-minute speech Friday night. Long before his current team takes the floor for dunks and shooting contests and planned dances, a 48-year-old established big-time coach plans to become an enchanted kid of maybe 12.
“I’m going to be a fan tomorrow night,” he says. “This means a lot to a lot of people around here, and I’m just happy to be part of it.”